No Strike: Newspaper Guild, PMN Reach Tentative Agreement

Details will be presented to the newspaper union membership on Monday.

There will be no Philadelphia newspaper strike after all.

On Friday night — after an exhausting 11-hour negotiating session with a federal mediator, and 25 hours before their contract was set to expire — the Newspaper Guild and Philadelphia Media Network announced they had reached a “tentative agreement” on a two-year contract.

The Guild represents journalists, ad sales people, and other support staffers at Philadelphia Media Network, which owns the Inquirer, Daily News, and

Neither side would comment after they emerged from the mediator’s office. Guild officials said details of the agreement will be presented to members on Monday. The two sides had previously been at an impasse on two remaining issues:  seniority and healthcare. They had previously come to agreement on the status of employees, who until now have been governed under  a separate contract from their print bretheren.

There were signs as the evening wore on that perhaps the mood was lightening up — members from each negotiating team emerged into the lobby to present a lurking Philly Mag reporter with small snacks.

But the agreement followed months of increasingly angry rhetoric and dire predictions. The original contract expired in February, and after months of impasse, Guild members voted earlier this month to begin strike preparations. The Guild held a rally on Thursday in front of the company’s newsrooms at 801 Market Street, which came just hours after senior company officials sent out a memo telling workers how they could cross picket lines.

Although workers this year received profit-sharing checks based on the company’s 2014 performance, that profit followed a long decline, and it was widely believed that a work stoppage could well wreck the newspapers permanently — and perhaps dramatically reshape the Philadelphia media landscape in unprecedented fashion.

“A work stoppage would cripple this company,” Howard Gensler, the Guild’s president, said during Thursday’s rally. “They know it. We know it.”

Assuming the agreement is ratified, though, the theory won’t be tested.

More to come Monday.

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